Welwyn News - November 2012

by Peter Mathews

You should have received your letter reminding you to renew your subscription. If you wish to benefit from a discount on ‘Bee Craft’ then you should make payment without delay as the cut off date is 22nd Nov.

Please note the additional Bee Diseases Insurance. The number of colonies insured should be the maximum    number of colonies you expect to have next summer, and not the number you have now.

You are strongly urged to tick the Swarm Collectors box. The more members we have covering our area, then the fewer calls any one person will have and the shorter their journey to collect a swarm.  If you keep bees, then you should be prepared to collect swarms. But, please do not sign up if you are work away from home much of the time.  If you are already paid up, but didn’t tick the box, you can always change your mind.

Many thanks to everyone making prompt payment. This makes life so much easier all the way down the line.

Most of our new members have been asking for further training. Here it is!  Our first session is on Tuesday, 27th November, at Woolmer Green Village Hall at 7.30pm. We don’t have anyone to call upon to deliver this, so we will follow the old maxim……. ‘the best way to learn is to teach’. We can only start from where we are, unlike some parts of the country we don’t have anyone with the National Diploma or Master Beekeeper on the door step. The plan is to teach ourselves.  Many other associations have been doing just this for some years and it appears to work.  Bucks run study groups based on these lines. Three of their branches have got together and each is responsible for delivering two of the BBKA Modules. Material is prepared and delivered by group members.

These evenings are aimed at all members not just beginners. The plan is to follow the syllabus for the various modules, starting with Module 1. This Module is also an excellent preparation for anyone wanting to take the   ‘Basic’ next year. Although the evenings will follow the structure of the syllabus they are not intended solely for those taking the Module exams. In Bucks, only about a quarter of those attending the meetings are interested in  taking the exams. But, by following the syllabus we should cover everything in a logical fashion at the same time giving  preparation for those who do want to take the exam.

We intend opening the sessions to other branches, hoping that they will, in turn, pick up on this and  run similar sessions covering other Modules.

  • Introduction
  • Outline of the BBKA training scheme
followed by 2 short talks from the Module 1 Syllabus
More details to follow……..
After organising our highly successful beginners’ courses for two years, Rachel is stepping down from the job.  Would you like to take this role on? You do not need to have any great knowledge of beekeeping, just the ability to set up meetings, enrol candidates etc. We are all involved with publicity.

If you would like to help run our association, but are not happy as Training Officer then you may prefer to take over as Secretary ?  Tamara is prepared to move to training if we can find her a replacement. Secretary is our prime contact with the public as well as looking after our regular committee meetings.

We need more members to act swarm collectors— just tick the box on your subscription form or let us know.

This hive is illustrated in Bee Craft ( Oct 2012, p13—The Future Of Bee Keeping) . The egg shaped hives are a favourite of Heidi Herrmann of the Natural Beekeepers Association. Heidi demonstrated the hive on Country File, shown on BBC on 21st October (and available on i-Player for 12 days). Talking to the programme presenter, Julia Bradbury, Heidi described the Sun as a bee friendly hive. Ordinary beekeepers (eg Welwyn members) do not care for their bees, and as a result of years of poor practice their bees are now sick. Heidi is working towards healthy bees. Her hives are encircled by crystals which provide  natural energy to the bees helping their well being.    Ordinary beekeepers (Welwyn members again) have to dress up in toxic waste suits in order to inspect their bees. This just demonstrates how badly they are looking after their bees. The great advantage of the Sun hive is that no protective clothing is quite unnecessary…….at this point a distressed Julia asked Heidi for help with sting just  below her right eye. Hmmm, I will think about it especially covering my hive with cow dung.

  • 25, 26, 27th October  - National Honey Show in Weybridge. I can give you a lift, or take orders for equipment etc. Planning to go down on the Friday.
  • Tuesday 6th November  - Social Evening, Meeting at The Waggoner's, Ayot Green at 8.00pm
  • Saturday, 17th November—Winter Bazaar, Applecroft School, 11am—3pm    contact Phill Jepson
  • Tuesday 27th November—  ‘Further Beekeeping’ at Woolmer Green Village Hall, at 7.30pm
Further Ahead :-
  • Tuesday 5th March 2013 -  Welwyn BKA, Annual General Meeting at Woolmer Green Village Hall

Honeybees bite too

by Vita (Europe) Ltd

Vita researchers have just revealed startling findings about the bite of the honeybee in the prestigious scientific journal, PLOS ONE. The researchers have discovered that honeybees can bite as well as sting and that the bite contains a natural anaesthetic. The anaesthetic may help honeybees fend off pests such as wax moth and the parasitic varroa mite, and it also has great potential for use in human medicine.

Read more about this news here and the detailed scientific paper is here.

Bee wary

Person Posing as Bee Inspector

The National Bee Unit has received reports that a gentleman in his mid-fifties and claiming to be a Bee Inspector recently attempted to gain access to an out apiary in Nottinghamshire.

The NBU would like to remind beekeepers that the Seasonal Bee Inspectors have now finished for the year and all contact with the Inspectorate until 1st April 2013 should be through the NBU office, National Bee Inspector or Regional Bee Inspector - see contacts page on BeeBase for details.

All Authorised Bee Inspectors carry photographic i.d. from the NBU and beekeepers and land owners should ask to see this if there is any doubt. The Inspector would not normally approach the landowner of an out apiary to inspect the bees unless the beekeeper couldn’t be traced and the apiary was in a disease risk area.

Welwyn News - October 2012

by Peter Mathews

Tuesday,  2nd October at The Waggoners, Ayot Green 8.00pm.  Let me know if you want me to bring frames, foundation etc. I also have a small supply of Fumidil if you suspect nosema in your bees.

In spite of a very wet summer, the sun shone again on the Hatfield House Country Show. The Friday was busy with a lot of families taking advantage of the free entry for children. Saturday was okay, with sales going well. Our stock of honey was beginning to look low by the end of the day. Remembering an absolute manic Sunday last year, would our stock last out?  Nic and Sue came to the rescue with last minute supplies.  Sunday came……and, the weather was fantastic……perhaps a little too fantastic……think most people either flaked out in the garden or went to the seaside. They certainly didn’t come to the show. The Sunday was very quiet, and sales flat.

Although the number of visitors to the show were well down on last year our sales were exactly the same. Well the sales were slightly up, takings slightly down with a rare discrepancy accounting for the difference. Most of our sales were made on the first two days. A big reverse of last year when most sales were on the last day.  This was much better than Knebworth where takings were barely half those of last year.

Our display of stock was taken down each evening and put up the next morning by the new team. Note – I must take photos of each display another time. The new set up should avoid any honey having a favoured spot on the bench.

Candle sales were poor, but they did help provide a nice decorative feature to the display. These should sell better at Christmas Fairs.

A few  members print their own designer labels. Some of these have proven to be particularly successful. Last year Nic’s Ayot honey easily outsold everyone else. But, never second guess the customer!  It was quite apparent this year that the designer labels did less well. The best selling label was the traditional ‘cottage garden’. Roman Gorski (N Herts) sells honey in all the local markets and has experimented with all sorts of designs, and had come back to the ‘cottage garden’ as his favourite.

The extra space this year allowed a display of bee diseases (above) which was very popular with visitors and was an excellent introduction to the ‘Help The Honey Bee’ collection for the BBKA Research Fund (right).  Our microscope with varroa had folk reaching for their pockets!

Many thanks to everyone who came along to support the event and especially North Herts members. And, a big thank you to Graham Beesely for providing the observation hive. We had about a dozen people  along each day with 5 or 6 on the stand at any time —2 on sales, 1 or 2 on diseases, 1 on the observation hive (dedicated) and 1 on the BBKA collection, honey tasting etc.

Like Knebworth we attracted the attention of local bees; we have several apiaries on the estate. And, decided it would be tactful to abandon honey tasting on the Sunday. I did notice the sweety stalls and bakers were getting far more attention than us.

All in all a very enjoyable and successful weekend. It was good to share the event with North Herts and to have a visit from our President, John Mumford.

25, 26, 27th October  - National Honey Show in Weybridge
I can give you a lift, or take orders for equipment etc. Planning to go down on the Friday.

BBKA Basic Assessment

The following beekeepers have all passed the BBKA Basic Assessment:
  • Jeanette Collins
  • Helen Cullen
  • Marie Anne Beere
  • Collette Booth
  • Anne Phillips
  • Maggie Cartmell
  • Paul Craig
  • Phil Hughes
  • Jon Rogers
  • David Seal
  • Steve Carter
  • Robin Guest
Many congratulations to all.

Anne Wingate

Bee Disease Lecture with a Difference

By Richard Peterson

Eileen Remnant an experienced St.Albans member addressed around 25 members of the Association, mostly new beekeepers, in sunshine on the day after the opening of the London Olympics. Her lecture focussed on how to inspect a colony and what to look for as well as the most likely diseases that might be encountered. She stressed the procedures that would be put in place if a notifiable disease such as EFB or AFB was to be found at an apiary and how best to limit the spread of it to other colonies. A novel visual aid she used was a sheet showing the names of the most common diseases in varying type sizes showing them in order of magnitude depicted by the size of the letters in which they were printed. The most prevalent of them being DWV (Deformed Wing Virus).

She said that we have been very fortunate up until now that we have not suffered a serious outbreak of a notifiable disease and gave the numbers of recorded incidents detected around the country. Again we have been fortunate that most of the symptoms, which had been detected locally in colonies and thought to be of a serious nature, have mostly been caused by sac brood and chalk brood.

Eileen went on to talk about treatments and how they should be used. She said that by the use of some simple procedures like the dusting of the top bars with icing sugar after inspecting the hive in conjunction with mesh floors could reduce the varroa population on the bees by up to 20 per cent. Another item of information given was that when we treat our bees with any of the recognised treatments it was a mandatory requirement that we should keep a record of the serial numbers printed on the packaging and that these records were required to be kept for five years before being discarded.

When we arrived the chairs had been positioned outside the hut in the usual place and on the seats had been placed a photograph of a disease that the occupant was asked to identify, with instructions to look very carefully at them. In my case my sheet was numbered No 22, which was of a small mite sitting upon a larvae. This I quite wrongly identified as a varroa mite so no points for me. It was infact a tropilaelaps but in my defence I can only say that it was very small. It must be said a very high proportion of the diseases illustrated were wrongly identified and this goes to show that we see what we expect to see and not what we are actually looking at. A salutary lesson to us all. This was a very well received lecture given in a novel way and we thank Eileen for the presentation.

After the tea interval which is always used as a discussion forum Eileen gave a demonstration of some of the procedures she had spoken about earlier on how to inspect a colony and how to look for disease after shaking off the bees and removing the queen and placing her in cage and putting her in a safe place.

Finally I must mention that we have had another beekeeper stung at the apiary and having an allergic reaction. Fortunately he was at the time accompanied by his daughter who was able to get him to hospital. This is the second time this month and again I must stress how important it is not to be alone when visiting the apiary. An Emergency Contact Card has been devised which should be filled in and placed in the top pocket of beesuits for future visits to the Association Apiaries. Details provided on this card is sufficient personal information required by the Emergency Services should the need arise.

Hertfordshire Honey Chocolate could be made by Thorntons

Thorntons has just put out the following press release:
Vote For Famous Hertfordshire Flavour In Thorntons Great Chocolate Britain Competition 
Hertfordshire is famous for its great food and drink, and now one of the region’s most popular flavours, Herts honey, could be recreated in chocolate by Britain’s best loved chocolate maker Thorntons.
Kathryn Hearn from St Albans entered the flavour into Thorntons’ Great Chocolate Britain competition that has been running over the summer and now the people of Hertfordshire need to get voting to help the famous flavour top the East region chart. 
Thorntons has been calling for chocolate lovers across the country to submit their chocolate creations based on the flavours they think best represent their region. From hundreds of entries across 11 regions of the UK, three flavours have been chosen per region by Thorntons chocolatiers and the public will now have the final say as to the region’s top choice. 
In the East region, Kathryn’s Hertfordshire Honey Heart, which is a milk chocolate containing Hertfordshire honey and will compete with a milk chocolate with lavender fondant pieces and a white chocolate with Tiptree jam and crystalised sugar. 
The 11 lucky finalists will be announced in the coming weeks and will all be invited to Thornton Park in Derbyshire to make their chocolate creations in with Thorntons kitchens with the help of their chocolatiers. One overall winner will be announced during Chocolate Week in October and as well as winning a year’s supply of chocolate, the winning chocolate will be launched by Thorntons. 
Get voting for your favourite chocolate creations online at www.thorntons.co.uk/greatchocolatebritain 
For further information please contact Thorntons’ PR Manager Emma Tagg on 01773 542070 or emma.tagg@thorntons.co.uk
Kathryn Hearn said "My idea for a regional chocolate for Thorntons has been shortlisted and it includes Hertfordshire honey! I entered a competition to get a regional chocolate made and mine is among three now vying for the East region.  I am Hertfordshire born and bred and thought it would be nice to get Herts on the map, plus the combination of honey and milk chocolate sounds delicious."

Please help Kathryn win by casting your vote online.

St Albans News - August 2012

Fortunately the weather held fine for the July meeting of St Albans Beekeepers’ Association held at our apiary at Prae Wood. Crispin Baker gave a spirited account of feeding colonies in preparation for winter to the 23 members that were present. He explained the different kinds of feeders and their individual merits and disadvantages mainly for the benefit of the newer members. He also stressed the importance of cleanliness in the apiary so as to avoid the problems of robbing, which, once started, is extremely difficult to stop.

Crispin also brought to the meeting a large quantity of Ambrosia to fulfil the many orders that he had received from our members. He is able to bulk buy his supplies direct from Germany and provides an extremely valuable service to our association.

Another item of interest can be seen in the photograph. Robin Guest, our Chairman, presenting two of our long-serving members with their certificates of Honorary Life Membership that were awarded to them earlier in the year for services to the association. They were Eileen Remnant (right)), our former Chairman, who stood down at the beginning of the year. Eileen works tirelessly for the association and was responsible for putting together all the notes for our initial beekeeping courses that the association ran in the past as well as lecturing and being an authority on bee diseases, bee anatomy and anything to do with bee husbandry. The other member was Christine Aitken (left), our former secretary. Christine has been a pillar of the association and as well as being an excellent secretary also gives lectures to children in many of the local schools. Christine also gives extremely instructive demonstrations of candle making by the dipping and moulding methods at our winter meetings that are held in Chiswell Green. Another fact that must not be overlooked is that Christine and her husband, Ted, provided our apiary at Prae Wood with a long hive that was constructed entirely by Ted and it is always a pleasure to watch Christine manipulate its deep frames, which are at a very convenient height, and which she accomplishes with extremely little effort. Unfortunately Christine has, for the time being, to refrain from beekeeping as she has had a bad allergic reaction to a sting.

Finally, on the same subject, at the end of the day after the majority of the members had left the site, a small group of beekeepers decided to lend a hand with tackling a very aggressive colony which was in the process of being re-queened as the owner needed help to do some manipulations of the frames. One of this party allowed his face to come into close contact with his veil and received a sting on the chin. After we returned to the hut he became very unwell feeling very sick and becoming extremely flushed. Fortunately we had some Piriton to hand which he took but he started to have pains in his chest, tingling lips, stomach cramps and became very confused so we decided to call for an ambulance straight away although he had no difficulty breathing. First on the scene was one of the ‘First Responders’ team who started to monitor him until the paramedic arrived. He was again examined and as his airways were not compromised he was given the choice of going on to Watford Hospital or going home as the paramedic was confident the administering of the anti-histamine within 10 minutes of receiving the sting had saved the day and sorted the problem. This is a lesson to all of us not to inspect hives on our own in lonely locations as others were able to make the necessary telephone call and remain in touch with the control room until help arrived. Had he been on his own he certainly would not have been able to use the telephone or find the tablets so the incident might not have had such a happy outcome!

SE Herts News - August 2012

by John Mumford

I have received notice that bees around the Standon & Puckeridge area will be getting  a visit from the Bee Inspector due to an outbreak of EFB. This follows an outbreak of AFB a few years ago. This new EFB outbreak could posibly be connected with the one around Wareside but is not yet proven. Bees don’t just develop EFB, the disease is passed around by ignorant beekeepers who either don’t know, or don’t care about their neighbour’s bees. There is also an ongoing outbreak of EFB in the Enfield area. We have managed to keep a clean bill of heath in the SE.Herts ares for many, many years - lets keep it that way. Please be particularly vigilant when purchasing bees or equipment from any source, combs in particular, what may seem a bargain could very well be a poison chalice.

On a brighter note I can report that Adrian Lloyd is out of hospital but must take things easy for a while until things settle down. Meanwhile he is off on a well earned holiday.

I hope those who came to my apiary on 22nd. July didn’t mind doing a bit of my beekeeping for me, especially the novice beekeepers, thanks. I trust they enjoyed themselves. The Queen Rearing Group may be interested to know that of the 10 cells we grafted, 6 were accepted and produced some fine Queen cells, however when I checked a couple of days before the Queens were due to emerge I found a rogue Queen had taken over and destroyed the lot. Back to the drawing board!

It is now time to start getting the bees prepared for Winter. The bees have had a tough time and there is not much honey stores in some of the brood nests, so be careful when taking honey off that the bees have sufficient stores to keep them going until Winter Feeding is started. (Colonies should have a minimum of 5Kg. of honey stores at all times). Tesco’s sugar at £3.99 per 5Kg. pack is still the best buy.

There has been a lot of swarming through July, and I have had reports that there are more than a few colonies that have no brood. Bees are seldom without a Queen unless the beekeeper has been interfering. however if several days after a sunny spell there is still no brood then the bees may need some help. Get some advice from a more experienced beekeeper.

There will be a Committee Meeting at Heaton Court at 8.00pm. on Thursday 23rd August. And September is going to be a busy month. Our next meeting will be 3.00pm. at Bayford on Sunday 9th. September at the Association Apiary. We will be providing a stall at Van Hage’s Garden Centre, times and dates have yet to be decided, and then there is the HBKA Bee World Show at Capel Manor on Saturday 15th. September.

Welwyn news - August 2012

by Peter Mathews

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow ie Tuesday 31st at The Waggoners, Ayot Green. Let me know if you want me to bring frames or foundation. I will also have my rota and tickets for Hatfield House.

On 8th August the Bishops Stortford Beekeepers Association is holding a talk by John Carr on the Small Hive Beetle.  This free talk is open to any member of HBKA.  The venue is Hopleys Plants in Much Hadham ( www.hopleys.co.uk) starting at 8pm. Space is limited so RSVP to Paul Cooper, propolis@me.com

Saturday 4th at Knebworth Golf Club 10.30am.  Directions to the apiary are attached separately.
Hatfield House & Knebworth Country Shows—Help
We need lots of Honey and You!  Unless we hear otherwise, unsold produce from Knebworth will pass on to  Hatfield House.
Final details will be sent out to helpers for both events nearer the time.

We need helpers and honey at the Knebworth Show with 3/4 people to set up our pitch on the Friday.
Contact, Peter Folge:-   the_beekeeper@hotmail.com

I now have tickets for Hatfield House. Please let me know your preferred days.  It will make things easier to get tickets to you sooner rather than later. This is a very enjoyable day and is highly recommended. This year we have more space which we will use for a display  covering bee diseases.
This year we are sharing the event with North Herts—so lots of new beekeepers to meet and swap tales. Our Herts BKA President this year is John Mumford from South East Herts. We look forward to meeting John and Jill on the Saturday.  We are also invited to drinks with Lord & Lady Salisbury at 6.30 pm on the Friday.
Contact :- petermathews@gmx.com

A few weeks back I noticed that one of my hives had a single sealed queen cell bang centre in the middle of the frame. The location and time of year suggested this was a supercedure cell. So I decided to leave it be. Next visit, a week later I could not find the original queen, but I did find a beautiful new queen. The colony was still very strong, so am sure, or fairly sure, they did not swarm. Some days later I got a call from Nick to say that he had found, what could only be, the original queen in the grass about 20 m in front of the hive with a handful of attendant bees. So that’s what happened to her!  Am quite surprised that a queen with both wings clipped short could make it so far. My previous clipped escapees have never managed more than about a metre.

31st July, Tuesday -  Social and bee chat evening at The Waggoners, Ayot Green at 8.00 pm
Suggested we might go through the syllabus for the Basic Assessment ? Or, whatever.
Let me know if you want me to bring along frames or foundation. I will have tickets for Hatfield House
4th August, Saturday Apiary Meeting at 10.30am at our new apiary at Knebworth Golf Club
8th August Wednesday— Talk on The Small Hive Beetle (Bishops Stortford)
11,12th August— Knebworth House Country Show, — organiser Peter Folge, setting up on the 10th
17,18,19th August— Hatfield House Country Show — organiser Peter Mathews, dropping off on the 16th.

Advert - Beechwood Bees


Offering an excellent range of beekeeping equipment at affordable prices.

Providing quality and affordable beekeeping equipment is what we are all about here at Beechwood Bees. Being passionate about beekeeping as well as being beekeepers ourselves gives us an insight into what beekeepers want and need.

We have worked hard with our beekeeping suppliers to ensure we stock an environmentally sensitive range of beekeeping equipment, while never compromising on quality and service.

Take a look at our range of beekeeping equipment including beehives, a full range of beekeeping protective clothing and exceptional range of beekeeping accessories - perfect for experienced and novice beekeepers alike.

Welwyn news - July 2012

by Peter Mathews

Whilst we did not enjoy a hot, sunny day we were extremely grateful for a dry morning. The Street Market is one of our more successful events as far as honey sales is concerned. A very late sale took our last jar for a complete sell out. Sales were up on last year with 107 honey sales made up of 85 1lb jars and 22 cut comb. Think we have always reckoned to sell 100 lbs during the 3 hrs. This is about 4x that of most other events.

A dozen of us enjoyed a wonderful afternoon hosted by Robin and Christine. Robin is the inventor of the Dartington Hive which offers a number of novel features designed to make your beekeeping that much easier. Construction is quite simple and is traditionally in marine ply, which is good for DIY beekeepers and those wanting to make savings. With a greater horizontal spread the full hive is lower than an equivalent National box—good if you are not very tall. The higher working height and smaller boxes are also better in avoiding back problems.

The Dartington, or in its manufactured form ’The Omlet Hive’ is very stable and is popular among the new roof top beekeepers in London. Older members will remember Dale Emery’s rooftop apiary in Welwyn Garden—Dale was one of the first users of the Dartington long hive.

We finished the afternoon with a wonderful tea and lots of bee talk. The weather was kind with a short sharp shower breaking a largely sunny afternoon.  Many thanks to everyone bringing cakes. Kerry’s chocolate cake was a winner.


We were very pleased with our visit to Knebworth Golf Course. The service track running alongside the greens and separated by mixed woodland leads to almost unlimited apiary space with good access, security with locked barrier and easy parking. What more do you want?  It is one of the best apiary sites we have been offered and is ideally located for most members. We will be following up on this, more to follow…....

A run on foundation means that we are out of stock of 14x12 foundation. We have plenty of foundation of super and std brood size, and all sizes of frames. We also have pins and Fumidil (Nosema treatment). I will be re-stocking in October…….must remember to get more 14x12.  I am also out of jars.

Peter Johnson  - We welcome Peter to the committee as Social / Events Secretary. If you have a new event etc please contact Peter first just to ensure we are not already treble booked. Also give Peter a call if you have any ideas for a meeting, offers of a garden meeting etc.  E-mail p.johnson293@ntlworld.com

We need helpers and honey at the Knebworth Show with 3/4 people to set up our pitch on the Friday.
Contact, Peter Folge:-   the_beekeeper@hotmail.com

I now have tickets for Hatfield House. Please let me know your preferred days.  It will make things easier to get tickets to you sooner rather than later. This is a very enjoyable day and is highly recommended. This year we have more space which we will use for a display covering bee diseases.
Contact :- petermathews@gmx.com

Don’t forget to check that your bees have adequate stores. With colonies at maximum strength and continued wet weather, colonies are consuming more stores than they ar bringing in. I have heard of people finding dead  colonies.

Herts Bees is back!  The Herts BKA website is up and running again with lots of news in and around the county, including this newsletter. You can find us at :- http://www.hertsbees.org.uk/

14th July, Saturday—Apiary Meeting at Raffin Green, at 10.30am

31st July, Tuesday -  Social and bee chat evening at The Waggoners, Ayot Green at 9.00 pm.
Suggested we might go through the syllabus for the Basic Assessment ? Or, whatever. Let me know if you want me to bring along frames or foundation. I will have tickets for Hatfield House.

11,12th August— Knebworth House Country Show, — organiser Peter Folge, setting up on the 10th

17,18,19th August— Hatfield House Country Show — organiser Peter Mathews, dropping off on the 16th.

Time for a Change

by Luke Adams

For over six years now St.Albans have been running their annual Beginner’s Course at the beginning of each year attracting an oversubscribed number of people to their fortnightly theory evenings to be ready for the practical hands-on beekeeping sessions come the Spring. This was then complemented by mentoring from experienced beekeepers at their two out-apiary’s Prae Wood and Oaklands College. However now St.Albans have decided to take a bold new step and take an entirely new approach to training these beginners.

The two main organisers of this year’s course, Marian Whittaker and Anne Phillips decided to run the practical mentoring sessions first and then carry out the theory sessions the following winter. This means that the theory training will still take place in January but this will be to the beginners who have undergone a beekeeping year with mentors at one of the out-apiary’s.

It was felt that serious beginners would find out what the practical side of beekeeping is all about and any that are unsure of whether they will like it or not will definitely know during the practical sessions rather than going all through the theory and then giving up which may waste valuable training time and also take up a beginners space on the course.

Marian and Anne together with a few other members have come up with a brilliant Beginners Pack which consists of an Apiary diary of when they are visiting the out-apiary, who their mentor is and also some basic bee information. The brilliant bit is that they have a course tick-box training plan that their Mentor’s sign when they think the beginner has achieved that appropriate task. Bearing in mind these are beginners, who haven’t learned any theory yet, all of the tasks are at a very basic level; like how to light a smoker, how to recognise a drone etc but their Mentor varies with each visit so they can see a variety of ways of doing things.

Another clever part of this idea is that their Mentor will be a Junior Mentor (ie a beekeeper who has been on a previous course less that 3 years ago) and they will show them the practical sides of opening up a hive and carrying out the examinations. On hand also will be Senior Mentors (experienced beekeepers) who will do the signing off process for the beginners Course training plan.

It is hoped that with their gained practical knowledge they will go into their theory course with a greater knowledge and they can be taught more detailed and important aspects of beekeeping.

We will give updates on how this new approach is working but it started the first week in April.

General Husbandry Assessment

by Peter Mathews

HBKA members, have you thought of taking the BBKA General Husbandry Exam? Well, next year you can take it for free.

Hertfordshire BKA have one of the lowest number of people taking the Basic Assessment across the country. One reason for this is that we are desperately short of examiners. To be an examiner you need to have been successful in the BBKA General Husbandry Assessment, followed by an examiner training session at the BBKA apiary at Stoneleigh. We will fund exam fees together with travelling costs to Stoneleigh. To qualify for funding you will agree to act as an examiner and to be involved in coaching members preparing to take the Basic.

Now is a good time to think about it as you will need to show your 2012 hive records for the 2013 assessment. You will also need to have the Basic Certificate and have kept bees for 3 years. And, you will also need to have 3 strong hives available on the day of assessment.

Further information including application form and syllabus together with guidelines are available on the BBKA website: www.bbka.org.uk/learn/examinations__assessments/general_husbandry_certificate

Workshops outlining what is involved are held from time to time around the country. There will be a session at The National Honey Show at Weybridge in October together with a workshop at The Spring Convention in April.

If you are interested then contact our Examination Secretary, Phil Raine e-mail: phil@fourpharm.demon.co.uk.

The closing date for applications is the end of February. Funding decisions will be made in January.

"College apiary creates a buzz" - The Herts and Essex Observer

The Bishops Stortford branch has been helping Bishops Stortford College create an apiary for the benefit of the senior school. This was recently covered in the Herts and Essex Observer.

SE Herts News - July 2012

by John Mumford

The Apiary Meeting held in Roy Cropley's garden on a miserable Sunday afternoon (10th June) proved to be very interesting. Roy showed us several Nucs with Queens that were waiting around for a spell of suitable weather to get out and mated. Roy also showed members his honey extraction facilities.

This year has been the most challenging that I have ever experienced in my time keeping bees. Never have I had to feed so much to full colonies in May and June. There has been a lot of swarming, and there have been a lot of colonies with no brood whatsoever, new Queens taking a long time to get mated because of the bad weather. [Less bees - less honey]. If the weather doesn't improve then there will have to be a lot of feeding done this Autumn. There have been times this years that, foragers, when they could get out, where coming back with less than they went out with.

At my Apiary meeting in May I grafted some Queen cells - two of the cells were finished and now the new Queens are up and running. I find that I get much more fun raising Queens than I do lugging heavy supers around. The Nuc we transferred into a hive are doing very well but have needed a lot of TLC to help them draw out the new frames of foundation. At the end of June they needed a super for extra space.

When taking off honey I still prefer the Porter Bee Escape as a means of clearing bees from supers of honey. The gap in the springs needs to be adjusted to 3mm. any smaller and the bees wonít go through, and any bigger, and they get back up.

Our next meeting will be at Pinewood School (SG12 9PB), Adrian Lloyd's Apiary on 22nd July. Please let Jo know if you are going so that she can get the catering right.

Broxbourne Council Open Day 7th July - Roy Cropley will provide the Observation Hive. Setting up and delivery of hive products for sale from 11.00 till 1.30pm. John Mumford, Derek Driver and Tom Dawson. All Vehicles must be off site by 12.15pm and will not be allowed back until at least 5.15pm. There is plenty of free parking in the grounds of the Cheshunt School opposite. The show opens for sales at 2.00pm. 2.00 till 5.00pm. Tom Dawson, Roy Cropley, Maria Fitzjohn, and Tina Rawlings. The show closes at 5.00pm when the stall will be closed down and any unsold goods can be taken away.

EFB Outbreak

One of our members who lives midway between Ware and Widford has been notified by the National Bee Unit that a new outbreak of European Foulbrood (EFB) was confirmed on 25th June within 3km of their apiary.

The NBU advises:
Please be vigilant and examine your colonies carefully, advising us if you have concerns. For help in recognizing disease, you can view our Foul Brood leaflet, or for more information please visit BeeBase online at http://www.nationalbeeunit.com. Priority Inspection Visits of apiaries will be continued in areas where disease has been confirmed. 
Contact details:
Name: Peter Heath (Seasonal Bee Inspector: April - September inclusive), Mob: 07775 119429, Email: peter.heath@fera.gsi.gov.uk
For privacy reasons, NBU won't be any more precise than "within 3km".  But if the owner of the apiary doesn't mind going public, please get in touch with editor@hertsbees.org.uk.

Advert - Maisemore Apiaries one day event

Dear Beekeeper

We are having a one day event only held here at Maisemore Apiaries on Saturday 30th June, lots of 2nd quality hive parts and frames for sale at great prices so please come along and bring your beekeeping friends as this is on a first come first served basis, we have a lot in stock but do not know how long it will last.

Hope you will be able to come along and get some great bargains!

Please see our website www.bees-online.co.uk for any updates.

Best Regards
Maisemore Apiaries

Welwyn news - June 2012

by Peter Mathews

Dodging a determined bee in the garden, Lieva’s husband Andy took a nasty fall resulting in him lying flat on the ground completely paralysed. The good news is that the ambulance arrived in 3 minutes and rushed him to Addenbrooks where they pinned everything that could be pinned. He had broken a couple of vertebras trapping the spinal nerve. Only three days later, Mike Goodhew from across the way called Lieva before setting off to visit Andy in hospital only to be told that Andy was home again and walking about.
We wish Andy a speedy and full recovery.

Whilst on an injury theme......over the years too many members have been forced to give up beekeeping as a result of a bad back. Take care when lifting heavy loads. Keep your back straight when lifting and bend your legs. When carrying supers, keep them close to your body. Where possible keep loads light - use small boxes for delivering honey. Wait for help with heavy lifts.

Once again we had a very enjoyable day with Peter Heath. Although the weather was not the usual hot and sunny day we have come to expect, it was still a dry day after a very wet week. We visited 8 apiaries and something like 20 colonies. There was an excellent turnout at each stop with people joining and leaving through the day.
No serious problems but we did see:-

  • Chalk brood— hive needs re-queening as this is a generic tendency to fungal infection.
  • Brood Laying Queens—again the colony needs re-queening. This is likely to be a common problem this year and is a reflection of the wet weather. Virgin queens need to mate within a week, and this needs a fine day.

With the cold weather, honey from OSR needs to come off fairly quickly before it crystallises in the comb. You need to extract as soon as you take off the supers. Honey will set faster once it is off the hive. Keep an eye on your bees after taking off their stores the weather continues to be wet and we are in the ‘June gap’. Be prepared to feed again in the coming weeks.
Many thanks to everyone taking part with special thanks to those providing refreshments. And a big thank you to John Peacock for organising a terrific day.
Stefan’s hives— well, only half of them, an impressive collection after only a year of beekeeping.
Huge thanks for everyone coming along to Bee World at the Herts Show in Redbourn.
Saturday was wet, and Sunday was very wet. The new start time of 8.30am was not too popular. Just how many people do you expect on a wet Sunday morning? The Jubilee Celebrations on the Thames did not help. Sales on the Saturday were just about double those of those on Sunday as were the numbers of visitors.
Special thanks goes to Phill for organising this event for the second year.

Saturday Team
Sunday Team
More about Bee World can be found here.


  • Honey Works Visit on Sunday, 24th June
  • Knebworth House Country Show, 11,12th August—organiser Peter Folge, setting up on the 10th
  • Hatfield House Country Show 17, 18, 19th August—organiser Peter Mathews, dropping off on the 16th.

Nucs, honey, thymol and jars for sale

by Peter Folge

I have 20+ (5 frame British National) nucs for sale £140.00 These are very gentle and prolific in nature and am happy for beekeepers to view before they buy.  These are ready for dispatch.

I also will be selling summer honey in 30lb buckets anyone interested. Price negotiable.
Also have 1lb honey jars and thymol crystals available.

Please contact me, Welwyn: 01438 816211

Cuprinol and bee hives

Information from the manufacturers of Cuprinol confirm that none of their products are suitable for bee hives.  The Twickenham and Thames Valley beekeepers have more on this story at i-buzz: Cuprinol and bee hives.

Starvation Risk

A warning about colony starvation has just been released by defra's BeeBase:
With the continued spell of poor weather in many areas of the UK, reports are coming in from Regional and Seasonal Bee Inspectors of starving bee colonies, where the beekeeper is not aware that the bees are severely short of food, or the colony(s) have already starved to death.
Feeding advice and further details can be found here.

New Varroa research results from University of Sheffield

Dr Stephen Martin and his team from the University of Sheffield have said that a particular strain of Deformed Wing Virus is the main cause of harm to colonies that are infected with the Varroa mite.  Their report has just been published in Science and the BBC covered it extensively on the Today programme and on their website - Honeybee decline linked to deadly virus and Honeybee virus: Varroa mite spreads lethal disease.

Bee World at The Herts Show

by Peter Mathews

The Herts Show at County Show Ground outside Redbourn rarely disappoints when it comes to the weather. Saturday was wet and the Sunday very wet. Trade was brisk on the Saturday, but at 8.30 on Sunday morning it was exceedingly quiet - just how many people do you expect at this time on a wet Sunday. From here we never really got going. Competition with the Jubilee Celebrations in London did not help. We sold 131 lbs of honey and 24 half pounds plus 18 candles. Sales on the first day were about twice those of the Sunday. Discrepancies in takings were £1.40 in our favour - well done team!

Welwyn manned the sales bench, St Albans put on a display showing the role of bees in the environment, Mike spent a couple of days putting his frames together whilst Graham brought his observation hive.

Our information desk was kept busy advising on planting for bees, attracting bumble bees and 'what's happening to our bees', diseases etc. We received only 4 membership enquiries compared with 40+ last year although we did help several people from outside the county. I thought I was doing really well in attracting a new member when he asked if there might be problems at 1,200 ft! He didn't say what part of Hertfordshire he came from, but I fancy it was well North of Hitchin. One of the more unusual requests came from a commercial photographer who wants to photograph honey emerging from the frame as it is spinning in the extractor - it sounds very sticky.

Our BBKA collection box for the Research Fund and the Adopt A Hive scheme were both vastly more popular than I would have expected. Am guessing that we took at least £50 in donations based on the number of booklets given out. At later events, the plan is to put the box at the end of a display of bee diseases.

Many thanks to everyone who took part and helped put together another very successful BeeWorld. We are especially grateful to Phill Jepson who organised the day for the second year running. Whilst everyone was hugely indebted to June, steward of the Horticulture Marquee, for providing us with free tea and coffee for a donation to Mencap.

My Labrador enjoyed lots of attention and loved every minute.



May 2012 - Welwyn Beekeeper's Association


With the continued wet weather we all need to be feeding our bees to replace the stores which have been consumed whilst the bees are unable to fly. Starving bees go downhill fast. And, it is not good to get your bees through the winter only to lose them in May. Keep them in good condition and they will be out foraging as soon as the weather improves. But, make sure too that supers are not in place whilst feeding, or you risk sugar syrup contaminating your honey.


Members are advised to take a guarded view regarding e-mails on this subject. If you haven’t yet been con- tacted, this campaign relates to the use of pesticides based on neonicotinoides. Although there has been a huge amount of hype on this subject from a number of pressure groups the position is essentially unclear. Just check out the web sites from our leading bee research centres, NBU etc —they remain silent! Yes, I agree it is shameful that there has been no research as to the non lethal effects of these compounds on honey bees. But, that doesn’t mean that they are the cause of all our beekeeping problems. The campaigners are largely ‘alternative (and very political) beekeepers’ and as part of your support are keen to get you to sign up to their cause — only £10/year.

A more balanced view of these pesticides can be found on the BBKA web site or in BBKA News. And, if you do have a spare tenner about your person, I suggest a donation to the BBKA Research Fund as a very worthwhile cause.


Our main extractor is a radial extractor held by Peter Folge. It holds 9 frames. Loan is free of charge for 7 days, and £5/week thereafter. Please ensure the single ball bearing is in place before and after using. Don’t use it without.

Our second extractor is a 3 sided tangential extractor. It doesn’t have a bearing to lose, but that also means it takes more effort to turn the handle. We didn’t promote its use, unless you were desperate, as the cage was flaking paint and rust. We were on the point of replacing the cage with a new one in stainless steel at about £100 when we found someone who could grit blast it and re-coat with a non stick coating for £25. This has now been done.


If you suspect Nosema in your bees then we can quickly check this out. You will need to supply a fresh or live sample of approx 30 flying bees ie not nurse bees. You can collect these in a bag as they return to the hive. If the test is positive, then we can also supply you with Fumidil—but our stock is very limited.


We still need people to act as swarm collectors on the BBKA website. For full area coverage we should have about 30% of our membership ie 20 people. The more people we list then the less work for any one person. Names to Phill Jepson - p.jepson@ntlworld.com. If we hit target then most people would only get one or two calls.


We are all set to spend an afternoon with Robin Dartington at the end of June.

Robin is the founder of two bee projects in Hitchin and is a member of the BBKA Special Interests Group. The first project is Buzz Works. This is an educational centre and is aimed at visits from local school children. The second project is nearing completion and is Honey Works. This is a beekeeping training centre and is aimed at introducing new beekeepers. Regular open days are held for the general interest of the public. For the future it is hoped to use Honey Works as a venue for special interest groups. From all of this, it should be apparent that Robin is very enthusiastic about the training and education of both new and not so new beekeepers.

Robin is a well known face at the Spring Convention and National Honey Show promoting the ‘Dartington Hive’. This is a modern long hive with moveable, National frames. I am sure Robin will tell us of the hives many advantages which include less lifting, easy swarm management and ease of construction. The Dartington is about the easiest and quickest hive to build for the home carpenter.

Places still available, contact petermathews@gmx.com


2/3rd June— ‘Bee World’ at Redbourn. This is a great event at the Herts County Show. Come along, get free entry to the show and meet members from the other branches. Names to Phill Jepson p.jepson@ntlworld.com

9th June—ApiTour with Peter Heath. This is being organised by John Peacock e-mail john.c.peacock@talk21.com if you want a visit. One of our calls will be to see Robin MacDonald’s long hive.

Peter Mathews

South East Herts - May 2012

by John Mumford (Hon Sec)

The April Meeting at the Association Apiary was well attended despite the cold and rain. The bees were in fine fettle with no signs of any disease and plenty of stores. We checked for sealed brood, (ie. a Fertile Queen present), and put a strip of Apistan into each colony just to see what mite drops we would get, (I have had reports that very high Varroa Populations and a lot of Virus damage has been found in some colonies). A few days later I checked for mite drops and found nothing. I put a super of foundation on each of the colonies, the fields of 'Rape' over the hedge looked very promising. The Apistan will of course have to come out before they start storing nectar. I found quite a few crawling bees climbing up blades of grass in front of the dark mob which made me suspect they may have a Nosema problem, but the sample I took was clear. I think foragers from this lot, (who fly even in the cold), had returned, dropped down to catch their breath, got chilled, and a number died. This is quite normal at this time of year and nothing to worry about.

We will all be making up frames in a hurry shortly - and the Gimp Pin packet often gets knocked over. I have found the neatest way to pick them up off the floor is with a Fridge Magnet, you get them all up without picking up a load of other rubbish.

We got the rain in April that was so badly needed, but my bees have taken quite a bit of punishment in the process. Foraging for nectar and pollen has been almost impossible, and without pollen the bees can't produce brood, some of my colonies are smaller now than they were at the end of March. I have been gently feeding those that needed it (a honey jar of 50% sugar syrup every 3 or 4 days), I didn't want to feed so much that the bees filled up their brood combs and then the Queens have nowhere to lay when the weather does change for the better.

Some colonies, very short of pollen have actually been throwing out their drones and drone brood!

The next Apiary Meeting will be at my Cock Lane Apiary on Sunday 20th. May. I would normally start Queen rearing in early May but this year the bees won't be ready. Every year the weather is different which makes beekeeping so challenging. I just hope I will have something interesting to show off on the day.

The next Committee Meeting is at 8.00pm. on Thursday 17th. May at 13, Heaton Court.

South East Herts - April 2012

by John Mumford (Hon Sec)

The March Winter Meeting - a talk by Oonagh Gabriel about the BBKA Basic Assessment, was unfortunately poorly attended however it turned out to be most informative about a variety of subjects.

At the HBKA AGM the new Constitution was adopted despite a number of items that will have to be changed at some other time or other. The HBKA Treasurer presented the accounts which showed a very healthy surplus, no items were recorded for Fixed Assets : - Honey Show Cups - and a WBC hive presented by Mrs. Crawford a few years ago. The Bring and buy/Car Boot sale turned out to be quite popular with sales of around £120.00.

A mnemonic for remembering Queen Marking Colours -

Year ending with a 1 or 6 White or Grey
Year Ending with a 2 or 7 Yellow
Year ending with a 3 or 8 Red
Year ending with a 4 or 9 Green
Year ending with a 5 or 0 Blue

Will You Raise Good Bees

The bees have done very well during the recent warm unseasonable weather. I have been through all of my colonies (end of March) they are all showing lots of stored pollen and some fresh nectar. Four to Five combs of sealed brood seems to be the average - and that means that in the next two week some 16,000 to 20,000 bees will emerge from their cells. Supers will have to go on a couple of weeks earlier than normal (what is normal nowadays?)- not for honey storage, but room for the bees. The old combs that I put to the sides of the brood chamber have been removed and I will add frames of foundation as the bees need them.

Progress at the HoneyWorks Bee Training Centre

BuzzWorks Association, Hitchin

The site was obtained in 2008, cleared of scrub by hand and laid out with paths, hedges, a wild flower meadow, fruit trees, lawn and bee hives using voluntary labour and materials initially paid for by BuzzWorks Association Hitchin.

An Awards-for-All grant of £9,993 was obtained in November 2010 for shed bases and four sheds, a pond liner and pond plants, and a sensory garden that could be deferred if costs rose.

No allowance could be made within the grant limit for upgrading standard sheds for public use and fitting out the sheds to make them fit for purpose as a training and information centre for beekeeping. Sufficient local grants and donations were therefore obtained during the course of the year for necessary upgrading that needed to be incorporated while the sheds were being erected (increasing internal height and strengthening roofs; adding porches; ceilings and roof insulation; external and internal decoration).  A HCC Locality Grant of £1,000 has  enabled the social space between the two Training Sheds to be paved and roofed. Completing internal fitting out (Kitchen, Office/Club Room, Workshop, Exhibition on Beekeeping) and planting the Sensory Garden will depend on further funding. A Toilet Shed can now be built with a further HCC grant, for use by visitors and allotment gardeners, and a pre-existing private shed should be taken over for use as the Association’s Tool Shed.

HoneyWorks now meets the aims for a beekeeping centre and community garden.  
It is intended to complete its full development by end November 2012 with help from a second National Lottery ‘Awards-for-All’ grant.


Bee Shed with added porch and water tank

Wildlife pond

Exhibition Hut

Training Centre

Site for future Sensory Garden

In Search of Lost Bees: Radar Entomology at Rothamsted Research

Dr. Stephan Wolf and Dr. Dino McMahon are research scientists working at Rothamsted Research, Hertfordshire, UK; the oldest agricultural research station in the world. With the guidance of Dr. Juliet Osborne and Prof. Robert Paxton, and as part of the Insect Pollinator Initiative (IPI), their project assesses the impact of emergent diseases on the flight performance and orientation ability of honeybees and bumblebees. They employ a range of modern techniques, including harmonic radar tracking.

Click here to learn more and to download the podcast.